Flavel, Fountain of Life, File 11.
( ...continued from File 10)
Sermon 11. The Nature and necessity of the Priesthood of Christ. 
Heb. 9: 23. 
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the 
heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things 
themselves with better sacrifices than these. 
Salvation (as to the actual dispensation of it) is revealed by 
Christ as a Prophet, procured by him as a Priest, applied by him as 
a King. In vain it is revealed, if not purchased; in vain revealed 
and purchased, if not applied. How is it revealed, both to us, and 
in us, by our great Prophet, has been declared. And now, from the 
prophetical office, we pass on to the priestly office of Jesus 
Christ, who as our Priest, purchased our salvation. In this office 
is contained the grand relief for a soul distressed by the guilt of 
sin. When all other reliefs have been essayed, it is the blood of 
this great sacrifice, sprinkled by faith upon the trembling 
conscience, that must cool, refresh, and sweetly compose and settle 
it. Now, seeing so great a weight hangs upon this office, the 
apostle industriously confirms and commends it in this epistle, and 
more especially in this ninth chapter; showing how it was figured to 
the world by the typical blood of the sacrifices, but infinitely 
excels them all: and as in many other most weighty respects, so 
principally in this, that the blood of these sacrifices did but 
purify the types or patterns of the heavenly things; but the blood 
of this sacrifice purified or consecrated the heavenly things 
themselves, signified by those types. 
    The words read, contains an argument to prove the necessity of 
the offering up of Christ, the great sacrifice, drawn from the 
proportion betwixt the types, and the things typified. If the 
sanctuary, mercy-seat, and all things pertaining to the service of 
the tabernacle, were to be consecrated by blood; those earthly, but 
sacred types, by the blood of bulls and lambs, &c. Much more the 
heavenly things shadowed by them, ought to be purified or 
consecrated by better blood than the blood of beasts. The blood 
consecrating these, should as much excel the blood that consecrated 
those, as the heavenly things themselves do, in their own nature, 
excel those earthly shadows of them. Look, what proportion there is 
between the type and anti-type, the like proportion also is betwixt 
the blood that consecrates them; earthly things with common, 
heavenly things with the most excellent blood. 
    So then, there are two things to be especially observed here: 
First, The nature of Christ's death and sufferings: It had the 
nature, use and end of a sacrifice, and of all the sacrifices the 
most excellent. Secondly, The necessity of his offering it up: it 
was necessary to correspond with all the types and prefiguration of 
it under the law: but especially it was necessary for the expiating 
of sin, the propitiating of a justly incensed God, and the opening, 
a way for reconciled ones to come to God in. The point I shall give 
you from it is, 
    Doct. That the sacrifice of Christ, our High Priest, is most 
    excellent in itself; and most necessary for us. 
    Sacrifices are of two sorts, eucharistical, or thank-offerings, 
in testification of homage, duty and service; and in token of 
gratitude for mercies freely received; and ilastical, or expiatory, 
for satisfaction to justice, and thereby the atoning and reconciling 
of God. Of this last kind was the sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ 
for us: to this office he was called by God, Heb. 5: 5. In it he was 
confirmed by the unchangeable oath of God, Psal. 110: 4. for it, he 
was singularly qualified by his incarnation, Heb. 10: 6, 7. and all 
the ends of it he has fully answered, Heb. 9: 11, 12. 
    My present design is, from this scripture, to open the general 
nature and absolute necessity of the priesthood of Christ; shewing 
what his priesthood implies in it, and how all this was 
indispensably necessary in order to our recovery from the deplorable 
state of sin and misery. 
    First then, we will consider what it supposes and implies; and 
then, wherein it consists. And there are six things which it either 
pre-supposeth, or necessarily includeth in it. 
    1. At first sights it supposes man's revolt and fall from God; 
and a dreadful breach made thereby betwixt God and him, else no need 
of an atoning sacrifice. "If one died for all, then were at dead", 2 
Cor. 5: 14. dead in law, under sentence to die, and that eternally. 
In all the sacrifices, from Adam to Christ, this was still preached 
to the world, that there was a fearful breach betwixt God and man; 
and even so, that justice required our blood should be shed. And the 
fire flaming on the altar, which wholly burnt up the sacrifice, was 
a lively emblem of that fiery indignation that should devour the 
adversaries. But above all, when Christ, that true and great 
Sacrifice, was offered up to God, then was the fairest glass that 
ever was in the world, set before us, therein to see our sin and 
misery by the fall. 
    2. His priesthood, supposes the unalterable purpose of God to 
take vengeance for sin; he will not let it pass. I will not 
determine what God could do in this case, by his absolute power; but 
I think it is generally yielded, that, by his ordinate power, he 
could do no less than punish it in the person of the sinner, or of 
his surety. 
    Those that contend for such a forgiveness, as is an act of 
charity, like that whereby private persons forgive one another, must 
at once suppose God to part with his right, cedendo de jure suo, and 
also render the satisfaction of Christ altogether useless, as to the 
procurement of forgiveness; yea, rather an obstacle, than a means to 
it. Surely, the nature and truth of God oblige him to punish sin. 
"He is of purer eyes than to look upon iniquity," Heb. 1: 13. And 
beside, the word is gone out of his mouths that the sinner shall 
    3. The priesthood of Christ pre-supposeth the utter impotency 
of men to appease God, and, recover his favour by any thing he could 
do or suffer. Surely God would not come down to assume a body to 
die, and be offered up for us, if at any cheaper rate it could have 
been accomplished; there was no other way to recover man and satisfy 
God. Those that deny the satisfaction of Christ, and talk of his 
dying to confirm the truth, and give us an example of meekness, 
patience, and self-denial, affirming these to be the sole ends of 
his death, do not only therein root up the foundations of their own 
comfort, peace and pardon, but most boldly impeach and tax the 
infinite wisdom. God could have done all this at a cheaper rate: the 
sufferings of a mere creature are able to attain these ends: the 
deaths of the martyrs did it. But who by dying can satisfy and 
reconcile God? what creature can bring him an adequate and 
proportionable value for sin? yea, for all the sin that ever was, or 
shall be transmitted to the natures, or committed by the persons, of 
all God's elect, from Adam, to the last that shall be found alive at 
the Lord's coming? surely, none but Christ can do this. 
    4. Christ's priesthood implies the necessity of his being God- 
man. It was necessary he should be a man, in order to his passion, 
compassion, and derivation of his righteousness and holiness to men. 
Had he not been a man, he had had no sacrifice to offer, no soul or 
body to suffer in. The Godhead is impatible, immortal, and above all 
those sufferings and miseries Christ felt for us. Besides, his being 
man, fills him with bowels of compassion, and tender sense of our 
miseries: this makes him a merciful and faithful High priest, Heb. 
4: 15. and not only fits him to pity, but to sanctify us also; for 
"he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are both of 
one," Heb. 2: 11,14, 17. And as necessary it was our High-priest 
should be God, since the value and efficacy of our sacrifice results 
from thence. 
    5. The priesthood of Christ implies the extremity of his 
sufferings. In sacrifices, you know, there was a destruction, a kind 
of annihilation of the creature to the glory of God. The shedding of 
the creature's blood, and burning its flesh with fire, was but an 
umbrage, or faint resemblance of what Christ endured, when he made 
his soul an offering for sin. 
    And lastly, It implies the gracious design of God to reconcile 
us at a dear rate to himself in that he called and confirmed Christ 
in his priesthood by an oath, and thereby laid out a sacrifice, of 
infinite value, for the world. Sins, for which no sacrifice is 
allowed, are desperate sins, and the case of such sinners is 
helpless: But if God allow, yea, and provide a sacrifice himself, 
how plainly does it speak his intentions of peace and mercy? These 
things are manifestly presupposed, or implied in Christ's 
    "This priesthood of Christ is that function, wherein he comes 
before God, in our name and place, to fulfil the law, and offer up 
himself to him a sacrifice of reconciliation for our sins; and by 
his intercession to continue and apply the purchase of his blood to 
them for whom he shed it:" All this is contained in that famous 
scripture, Heb. 10: 7, 8, 9, 10,11, 12, 13. Or, more briefly, the 
priesthood of Christ is that whereby he expiated the sins of men, 
and obtained the favour of God for them, Col. 1: 20, 22. Rom. 5: 10. 
But because I shall insist more largely upon the several parts and 
fruits of this office, it shall here suffice to speak this much as 
to its general nature; which was the first thing proposed for 
    Secondly, The necessity of Christ's priesthood comes next to be 
opened. Touching which, I affirm, according to the scriptures, it 
was necessary, in order to our salvation, that such a Priest should, 
by such a sacrifice, appear before God for us. 
    The truth of this assertion will be cleared by these two 
principles, which are evident in the scripture, viz. That God stood 
upon full satisfaction, and would not remit one sin without it: and 
that fallen man is totally incapable of tendering him any such 
satisfaction; therefore Christ, who only can, must do it, or we 
    1. God stood upon full satisfaction, and could not remit one 
sin without it. This will be cleared from the nature of sin; and 
from the veracity and wisdom of God. 
    (1.) From the nature of sin, which deserves that the sinner 
should suffer for it. Penal evil; in a course of justice, follows 
moral evil. Sin and sorrow ought to go together; betwixt these is a 
necessary connection, Rom. 6: 13. "The wages of sin is death." 
    (2.) The veracity of God requires it. The word is gone out of 
his mouth; Gen. 2: 17. "in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou 
shalt surely die:" certo ac statim morieris. From that time he was 
instantly and certainly obnoxious and liable to the death of soul 
and body. The law pronounces him cursed, "that continues not in all 
things that are written therein to do them," Gal. 3: 9. Now, though 
man's threatening are often vain and insignificant things, yet God's 
shall surely take place; "not one little of the law shall fail, till 
all be fulfilled," Matt. 5: 18. God will be true in his threatening, 
though thousands and millions perish. 
    (3.) The wisdom of God, by which he governs the rational world, 
admits not of a dispensation or relaxation of the threatenings 
without satisfaction: for, as good no king, as no laws for 
government; as good no law, as no penalty; and as good no penalty, 
as no execution. To this purpose one well observes; "It is 
altogether indecent, especially to the wisdom and righteousness of 
God, that that which provoketh the execution, should procure the 
abrogation of his law; that that should supplant and undermine the 
law, for the alone preventing whereof the law was before 
established." How could it be expected, that men should fear and 
tremble before God, when they should find themselves more scared 
than hurt by his threats against sin! So then God stood upon 
satisfaction, and would admit no treaty of peace, on any other 
    Object. Let none here object, that reconciliation upon this 
only score of satisfaction, is derogatory to the riches of grace; or 
that we allow not God what we do men, viz. to forgive an injury 
freely, without satisfaction. 
    Sol. Free forgiveness to us, and full satisfaction made to God 
by Jesus Christ for us, are not "asurata", things inconsistent with 
each other, as in its proper place shall be more fully cleared to 
you. And for denying that to God which we allow to men, you must 
know, that man and man stand on even ground: man is not capable of 
being wronged and injured by man, as God is by man, there is no 
comparison between the nature of the offences. 
    To conclude, man only can freely forgive man; in a private 
capacity, so far as wrong concerns himself; but ought not to do so 
in a public capacity, as he is judge, and bound to execute justice 
impartially. God is our Law-giver and Judge: he will not dispense 
with violations of the law, but strictly stands upon complete 
    2. Man can render to God no satisfaction of his own, for the 
wrong done by his sin. He finds no way to compensate and make God 
amends, either by doing, or by suffering his will. 
    (1.) Not by doing: this way is shut up to all the world; none 
can satisfy God, or reconcile himself to him this way; for it is 
evident our best works are sinful; "All our righteousness is as 
filthy rags," Isa. 64: 6. And it is strange any should imagine, that 
one sin should make satisfaction for another. If it be said, not 
what is sinful in our duties, but what is spiritual, pure and good, 
may ingratiate us with God? it is at hand to reply, that what is 
good in any of our duties, is a debt we owe to God, yea, we owe him 
perfect obedience; and it is not imaginable how we should pay one 
debt by another; quit a former by contracting a new engagement. If 
we do any thing that is good, we are be holden to grace for it, John 
15: 5. 2 Cor. 3: 5. 1 Cor. 15: 10. In a word, those that have had as 
much to plead on that score as any now living, have quitted, and 
utterly given up all hopes of appeasing and satisfying the justice 
of God, that way. It is like, holy Job feared God, and eschewed evil 
as much as any of you; yet he saith, Job 9: 20, 21. "If I justify 
myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it 
shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not 
know my soul; I would despise my life." It may be David was a man as 
much after the heart of God as you; yet he said, Psal. 143: 2. 
"Enter not into judgement with thy servant; for in thy sight shall 
no man be justified." It is like Paul lived as holy, heavenly, and 
fruitful a life as the best of you, and far, far beyond you; yet he 
saith, 1 Cor. 4: 4. "I know (or am conscious to myself) of nothing, 
yet am I not hereby justified." His sincerity might comfort him, but 
could not justly him. And what need I say more? The Lord has shut up 
this way to all the world; and the scriptures speak it roundly and 
plainly: Rom. 3: 20. " Therefore, by the deeds of the law, there 
shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Compare Gal. 3: 21. Rom. 
8: 3. 
    (2.) And as man can never reconcile himself to God by doing, so 
neither by suffering: that is equally impossible; for no sufferings 
can satisfy God, but such as are proportionable to the offence we 
suffer for. And if so, an infinite suffering must be borne: I say 
infinite, for sin is an infinite evil, objectively considered, as it 
wrongs an infinite God. Now sufferings may be said to be infinite, 
either in respect of their height, exceeding all bounds and limits; 
the letting out of the wrath and fury of an infinite God: or in 
respect of duration, being endless and everlasting. In the first 
sense, no creature can bear an infinite wrath, it would swallow us 
up. In the second, it may be borne as the damned do; but then, ever 
to be suffering, is never to have satisfied. 
    So that no man can be his own priest, to reconcile himself to 
God by what he can do or suffer. And therefore, one that is able by 
doing and suffering, to reconcile him, must undertake it, or we 
perish. Thus you see plainly and briefly the general nature and 
necessity of Christ's priesthood. 
    From both these, several useful corollaries, or practical 
deductions, offer themselves. 
    Corollary 1. This shows, in the first place, the incomparable 
excellency of the reformed Christian religion above all other 
religions, known to, or professed in the world. What other religions 
seek, the Christian religion only finds, even a solid foundation for 
true peace and settlement of conscience. While the Jews seek it in 
vain in the law, the Mahometan in his external and ridiculous 
observances; the Papist in his own merits; the believer only finds 
it in the blood of this great Sacrifice; this, and nothing less than 
this, can pacify a distressed conscience, labouring under the weight 
of its own guilt. Conscience demands no less to satisfy it, than God 
demands to satisfy him. The grand inquest of conscience is, is God 
satisfied? If he be satisfied, I am satisfied. Woeful is the state 
of that man, that feels the worm of conscience nibbling on the most 
tender part of the soul, and has no relief against it; that feels 
the intolerable scalding wrath of God burning within, and has 
nothing to cool it. Hear me, you that slight the troubles of 
conscience, that call them fancies and melancholy whimsies; if you 
ever had had but one sick night for sin, if you had ever felt that 
shame, fears horror, and despair, which are the dismal effects of an 
accusing and condemning conscience, you would account it an 
unspeakable mercy to hear of a way for the discharge of a poor 
sinner from that guilt: you would kiss the feet of that messenger 
that could bring you tidings of peace; you would call him blessed, 
that should direct you to an effectual remedy. Now, whoever thou 
art, that finest away in thine iniquities, that droopest from day to 
day under the present wounds, the dismal presages of conscience, 
know that thy soul and peace can never meet, till thou art persuaded 
to come to this blood of sprinkling. 
    The blood of this sacrifice speaks better things than the blood 
of Abel. The blood of this sacrifice is the blood of God, Acts 20: 
2~7. Invaluably precious blood, 1 Pet. 1: 18. One drop of it 
infinitely excels the blood of all mere creatures, Heb. 10: 4, 5, 6. 
Such is the blood that must do thee good. Lord, I must have such 
blood (saith conscience) as is capable of giving thee full 
satisfaction, or it can give me no peace. The blood of all the 
cattle upon a thousand hills cannot do this. What is the blood of 
beasts to God? the blood of all the men in the world can do nothing 
in this case. What is our polluted blood worth? No, no, it is the 
blood of God, that must satisfy both thee and me. 
    Yea, Christ's blood is not only the blood of God, but it is 
blood shed in thy stead, and in thy place and room, Gal. 3: 13. "He 
was made a curse for us." And so it becomes sin-pardoning blood, 
Heb. 9: 22. Eph. 1: 7. Col. 1: 14. Rom. 3: 26. And consequently, 
conscience-pacifying, and soul quieting blood, Col. 1: 20. Eph. 2: 
13, 14. Rom. 3: 26. O bless God, that ever the news of this blood 
came to thine ears. With hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, admire 
that grace that cast thy lot in a place where this joyful sound 
rings in the ears of poor sinners. What had thy case been, if thy 
mother had brought thee forth in the deserts of Arabia, or in the 
wastes of America! Or that if thou hadst been nursed up by a popish 
father, who could have told thee of no other remedy when in distress 
for sin, but to go such a pilgrimage, to whip and lash thyself, to 
satisfy an angry God! Surely the pure light of the gospel shining 
upon this generation, is a mercy never to be duly valued, never to 
be enough prized. 
    Corollary 2. Hence also be inferred of the necessity of faith, 
in order to a state and sense of peace with God: for to what purpose 
is the blood of Christ our sacrifice shed, unless it be actually and 
personally applied, and appropriated by faith? You know when the 
sacrifices under the law were brought to be slain, he that brought 
it was to put his hand upon the head of the sacrifice, and so it was 
accepted for him, to make an atonement, Lev. 1: 4. not only to 
signify, that how it was no more his, but God's, the property being 
transferred by a kind of manumission; nor yet that he voluntarily 
gave it to the Lord as his own free act; but principally it noted 
the putting off his sins, and the penalty due to him for them, upon 
the head of the sacrifice: and so it implied in it an execration, as 
if he had said, upon thy head be the evil. So the learned observe; 
the ancient Egyptians were wont expressly to imprecate, when they 
sacrificed; if any evil be coming upon us or upon Egypt, let it turn 
and rest upon this head, laying their hand, at these words, on the 
sacrifice's head. And upon that ground, saith the Historian, none of 
them would eat of the head of any living creature. You must also lay 
the hand of faith upon Christ your sacrifice, not to imprecate, but 
apply and appropriate his to your own souls, he having been made a 
curse for you. 
    To this the whole gospel tends, even to persuade sinners to 
apply Christ, and his blood to their own souls. To this he invited 
us, Matth. 11: 28. "Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest." For this end our sacrifice was 
lifted up upon the altar; John 3: 14, 15. "As Moses lifted up the 
serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up: that 
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting 
life." The effects of the law, not only upon the conscience, filling 
it with torments, but upon the whole person, bringing death upon it, 
are here shadowed out by the stingings of fiery serpents; and Christ 
by the brazen serpent which Moses exalted for the Israelites, that 
were stung, to look unto. And as by looking to it they were healed; 
so by believing, or looking to Christ in faith, our souls are 
healed. Those that looked not to the brazen serpent, died 
infallibly; so must all that look not to Jesus, our sacrifice, by 
faith. It is true, the death of Christ is the meritorious cause of 
remission, but faith is the instrumental applying cause; and as 
Christ's blood is necessary in its place, so is our faith in its 
place also. For to the actual remission of sin, and peace of 
conscience, there must be a co-operation of all the causes of 
remission and peace. As there is the grace and love of God for an 
efficient and impulsive cause, and the death of Christ our 
sacrifice, the meritorious cause; so of necessity there must be 
faith, the instrumental cause. And these con-causes do all sweetly 
meet in their influences, and activities, in our remission, and 
tranquillity of conscience; and they are all (suo genare) in their 
kind and place absolutely necessary to the procuring and applying of 
    What is the need that the blood of Christ is shed, if I have no 
interest in it, no saving influences from it? O be convinced, this 
is the end, the business of life. Faith is the Phoenix-grace, as 
Christ is the Phoenix-mercy. He is the gift, John 4: 10. And this is 
"the work of God," John 6: 29. The death of Christ, the offers and 
tenders of Christ, never saved one soul in themselves, without 
believing application. But, wo is me! how do I see sinners, either 
not at all touched with the sense of sin, and so being whole, need 
not the physician; or if any be stung and wounded with guilt, how do 
they lick themselves whole with their own duties and reformations! 
As physicians say of wounds, let them be kept clean, and nature will 
find balsam of its own to heal them: If it be so in spiritual 
wounds, what need Christ to have left the Father's bosom, and come 
down to die in the quality and nature of a sacrifice for us? O if 
men can but have health, pleasure, riches, honours, and any way make 
a shift to still a brawling conscience, that it may not check or 
interrupt them in these enjoyments, Christ may go where he will for 
    And I am assured, till God show you the face of sin, in the 
glass of the law, make the scorpions and fiery serpents, that lurk 
in the law, and in your own consciences, to come hissing about you, 
and smiting you with their deadly stings, till you have had some 
sick nights, and sorrowful days for sin, you will never go up and 
down seeking an interest in the blood of his sacrifice with tears. 
    But, reader, if ever this be thy condition, then wilt thou know 
the worth of a Christ; then wilt thou have a value for the blood of 
sprinkling. As I remember it is storied of our crook-backed Richard, 
when he was put to a rout in a field-battle, and flying on foot from 
his pursuing enemies; he cried out, O now saith he, a kingdom for a 
horse. So wilt thou cry, A kingdom for a Christ; ten thousand worlds 
now, if I had them, for the blood of sprinkling. 
    Corollary 3. Is Christ your High-priest, and is his priesthood 
so indispensably necessary to our salvation? Then, freely 
acknowledge your utter impotency to reconcile yourselves to God by 
any thing you can do, or suffer; and let Christ have the whole glory 
of your recovery ascribed to him. It is highly reasonable that he 
that laid down the whole price, should have the whole praise. If any 
man think, or say, he could have made an atonement for himself, he 
does therein cast no light reproach upon that profound wisdom which 
laid the design of our redemption in the death of Christ. But of 
this I have spoken elsewhere. And therefore, 
    Corollary 4. In the last place, I rather choose to persuade you 
to see your necessity of this priest, and his most excellent 
sacrifice; and accordingly to make use of it. The best of you have 
polluted natures, poisoned in the womb with sin; those natures have 
need of this sacrifice, they must have the benefit of this blood to 
pardon and cleanse them, or be eternally damned. Hear me, ye that 
never spent a tear for the sin of nature, if the blood of Christ be 
not sprinkled upon your natures, it had been better for you, that 
you had been the generation of beasts, the offspring of dragons or 
toads. They have a contemptible, but not a vitiated sinful nature, 
as you have. 
    Your actual sins have need of the priest, and his sacrifice, to 
procure remission for them. If he take them not away by the blood of 
his cross, they can never be taken away, they will lie down with you 
in the dust; they will rise with you and follow you to the judgement 
seat, crying, We are thy works, and we will follow thee. All thy 
repentance and tears, couldst thou weep as many as there be drops in 
the ocean, can never take away sin. Thy duties, even the best of 
them, need this sacrifice. It is in the virtue thereof that they are 
accepted of God. And were it not that God had respect to Christ's 
offering, he would not regard, or look towards thee, or any of thy 
duties. Thou couldst no more come near to God, than thou couldst 
approach a devouring fire, or dwell with everlasting burnings. 
    Well then, say, I need such a price every way. Love him in all 
his offices. See the goodness of God in providing such a sacrifice 
for thee. Meat, drink, and air, are not more necessary to maintain 
thy natural life, than the death of Christ is to give and maintain 
thy spiritual life. 
    O then, let thy soul grow big whilst meditating of the 
usefulness and excellency of Christ, which is thus displayed and 
unfolded in every branch of the gospel. And, with a deep sense upon 
thy heart, let thy lips say, Blessed be God, for Jesus Christ. 

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